Rat & Will Chapter 17: How Easy Is Too Easy?

Two days later, Rat and Will were in possession of one mostly clean guard uniform, three cages containing a total of twelve very angry feral trash dogs, two cases of little bottles of brand new potions, a full quiver of pitch arrows, and ten packets of “poo powder” (as Will was now calling it). They also had another couple of buried caches of weapons to sell later and several purses full of coppers. In short, they were as prepared as they were likely to be for their assault on the self-proclaimed Lord of Morgans Reach. More prepared in fact, than they usually were.

Will (being Will) had to comment on that as they searched for the small stream that marked the entrance to the aqueduct into the city. “So, you feel pretty good about this plan and our preparations, then?”

Rat smirked. Even she’d been surprised by how easily the dog catching had gone. The sleeping potions worked like a charm. The dogs were pretty unhappy about it when they woke, however. Loudly unhappy. At least until Rat had fed them most of the rest of a guard. Will claimed he’d have nightmares for the rest of his life just from watching, but she’d only shrugged. They’d both seen, and done, worse. 

“Don’t worry. I’m sure it will all go to tits up at some point.” She answered dryly. 

They shared a smile. “Oh, good. I was worried that this might be too easy.” He scratched under his chest plate. 

“Nah. We’ll be running into trouble at the castle.” Rat hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her suspicions about just what lurked there. 

“You think Lord Tremant is a demon mage?” Will, despite knowing better, liked to say things out loud. 

Rat winced, but she nodded. “Makes sense. Given its state, I figured the town was under bad management for years. But Milla and her brother say no, it’s only months. Do we know of anything else that can suck the life from a place so fast?”

Will grimaced. “And all the bodies?”

“What do you think?” Rat pushed. 

He sighed. “I don’t like it. We aren’t magic users.”

“Never stopped us before.” She said it wryly. “Besides, I still have a few of those magebane potions from two jobs ago just waiting to be used.”

“True.” He grinned, trying to grab back good humor. “And at least you get to start some fires.”

“You see? Fires are always a good idea.” Rat pointed at a small spring that led out of the trees and towards the city walls. “I think we found it.”

“Great. Shall we rest till nightfall, then?” Will had already dismounted. 

Rat followed suit. “I’m going to make sure. Then I’ll be back for a nap.”

He was already organizing the horses. “Be careful.”

“Always.” She hoisted a small bag and slung it crosswise over her chest before stepping carefully into the space where treeline met city walls. The aqueduct stuck out from the hillside the city perched on some 100 yards or so, meaning that it’s entrance was not easily seen from the walls. As she’d been told, the entrance had a gate, but the ancient metal was pulled up and rusted into place. “Pretty secure.” She mumbled sarcastically to herself. Rat carefully walked in, mindful of the crumbling brickwork along the side of the muddy stream. It wouldn’t do to take a tumble and injure herself now. 

In a few minutes, she’d walked far enough to lose the light from the end of the tunnel. She rustled in the bag and pulled out a tiny stub of candle. Once lit, she walked a bit further into the darkness, then waited, letting her eyes adjust to the much weaker light in her hand. When she was satisfied with her night vision, Rat continued on, taking the time to check the depth of the stream and to ensure that horses would find plenty of purchase with wet hooves. Eventually, she could hear quiet talking up ahead and soon enough there was light from in front of her. She extinguished the candle, letting the melted wax and wick cool before putting it carefully back in the proper pocket. Then she slowly made her way to the city’s entrance. 

 An hour later, she was convinced of the ease of this particular entrance. There were three people watching the entrance, though as she’d listened, they planned for one of their number to sneak away on other business later that evening. They didn’t expect to be relieved until morning. A fact they bemoaned rather loudly. Rat wondered if everyone in Morgans Reach would prove to be this stupid. So far, she’d seen plenty of evidence that they would, and hoped it continued to prove so. She considered removing the three now, while she was close and they were distracted, but could hear Will’s voice at the back of her skull berating her for taking such a chance without him. She withheld the sigh that provoked and moved carefully back into the darkness before again lighting her candle. 

An hour later, she was back with Will, chewing on jerky and some greens he’d found and describing what she’d learned. 

“This seems too easy.” He frowned. “Are they all stupid?”

Rat laughed, nearly choking on a bite of food. “I wondered the same.”

“Perhaps the mage…” He didn’t finish the sentence. Didn’t have to. Rat shrugged and kept eating. “Well, the extra horses and dogs are settled. If discovered, they’ll alarm the finder, but give no clue of their intended use or where they came from. And they should be fine for the next day right where they are.”

“Good.” Rat finished her simple meal and stood. It was dusk, and time to begin their slow move back into Morgans Reach.

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